This post was originally developed to support a May 26, 2016 with Representative Kennedy and Senator Dayton, where the East-West Connector road was be discussed. As the road was opened on May 15th I’ve updated the document to reflect the important milestones since 2016 that led to the completion of the project.
For over 40 years an East-West Corridor road has been a part of Highland’s Master Plan. The 1980 Master Street Plan below shows two alternate routes (highlighted in yellow).
The timeline below highlights milestones in the process of the east-west corridor discussion and a closely related issue, Highland Glen Park which was formerly known as the Adventure and Learning Park. A big thanks to Mayor Mark Thompson for digging up the information from before 2005. Note, click on the date to view the document which backs up the description.
The Dev Center requested a free culinary water connection from the Highland Water Company for the Adventure and Learning Park, which was under construction.
Highland Street Master Plan draft shows two east-west routes. See map at the top of the page.
Glen Thurgood (Highland resident and civil engineer) recommends that the southern east-west route be used.
The mayor discussed a request from the Dev Center to de-annex from Highland.
|The mayor indicated that the Dev Center was no longer able to fund the Adventure and Learning Park. The county indicated they would be willing to fund the park. The American Fork mayor does not want to annex the park.|
City of Highland East-West corridor recommendations.
Deseret News, “Highland Aims To Create Master Plan For Roads Connecting Area’s Cities”, Feb 13, 1992.
The Dev Center indicated that the Adventure and Learning park lease to the County expires on Feb 1, 1996 and that the County has no interest in continuing to operate it. The council expressed a willingness to look into entering discussions with the State/Dev Center regarding the park.
Discussed a draft of an agreement for Highland to lease the Adventure and Learning Park. The park is currently being overseen by the Dev Center but they do not have the funds to maintain it.
4 proposed East-West routes
Council approved purchase of park plus adjoining land for $1.4M. Some discussion of an East-West road occurred. It was noted that no land was purchased from the Dev Center outside the park for an East-West connector.
The mayor indicated that an agreement had been finalized with the State/Dev Center to purchase the Adventure and Learning Park and adjoining land for $200,000 a year for the next 7 years. The first payment of $200,280 has already been made.
Flyer for a public hearing on the East-West corridor. 12 options were shown.
Daily Herald, “Road Leads to Controversy”, Oct 31, 2000 - article covering the public hearing.
Bidding for east-west road through park authorized.
Work session on Highland Glen park. Discussion included east-west road options. Because the park is 6F land (developed using Federal funds) a $200K environmental study would need to be performed in order to run a road through the park. Note, it is my understanding that East-West road through the park did not materialize due to 6F issues combined with a threaten lawsuit by residents.
Settlement agreement with the residents of Pheasant Hollow requiring the city to involvement residents in any decision making process regarding the east-west connector road alignment and to be transparent. Highland may proceed with the purchase of the Jensen and Walkenhorst properties. Note, sometime between 2004 and 2009 the city and county settled on the southern route for the east west connecter and began purchasing property along that route.
Public hearing on land swap with AF to help align boundaries to support the Murdock Connector.
Discussion regarding money already spent for a design of the Murdock Connector and referenced a 2008 decision to purchase two homes in Pheasant Hollow, which from my point of view identifies the decision to build the East/West Connector using the southern route no later than 2008.
Murdock Connector discussed. Mayor indicates approval for right-of-way through state land has not been given.
Murdock Connector work session. Larry Ellertson, Utah County Commissioner was present. Cost of road (road, engineering, and construction management) was estimated to be $3.3M. The county would fund up to $4M. The Mayor felt there was a high probability that a right-of-way would be granted by the state.
3.5 hour discussion on whether or not to allow the mayor to enter into an interlocal cooperation agreement with the county for the Murdock Connector. Approved 4 to 0 with one council member abstaining. Note, the funding for the project was originally scheduled to expire Oct of 2015 but has been extended to 2016. Click here to see current MAG project map. You will need to click on the East-West Connector in Highland to see the project dates and verify that it is funded for 2016.
Daily Herald, “Highland signs agreement for new east/west road”, Mar 6, 2011.
General Plan amended to include the Murdock Connector. Passed unanimously
In the minutes of the Dev Center governing board it states that they recommended that an east-west connector road terminate at the NE corner of the property (just south of the high school and near the 4 way intersection. Also prior to bringing a proposal to the Dev Center it must be shown that a right of way exists for the road on non-state owned land.
USDC Properties Master Plan executive summary states the following:
Concurrent resolution (S.C.R 5 Concurrent Resolution Supporting the Master Plan – Sponsored by Senator Margaret Dayton). of the State House and Senate was signed by the Governor on March 12th. It state “… NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of the state of Utah, the Governor concurring therein, expresses support for the Utah State Development Center's master plan.” This was passed unanimously in the Senate and with only one Nay vote in the House.
East-West Connector preliminary plans:
UDOT email indicating support for the plan. “… We strongly support Highland City and Utah County in making this important connection. Creation of such as grid system helps our regional and local systems function well into the future.”
Minutes of Dev Center board meeting where the East-West connector was discussed it is an interesting read. The final approved motion reads as follows:
Highland City received a letter signed by President of the Utah Senate, the Speaker of the Utah House, Rep. Mike Kennedy, Senator Margaret Dayton, and the General Counsel for the Utah Legislature stating the concurrent resolution approving the master plan does not constitute legislative approval for the sale, exchange, or long-term lease of land and that such approval “is usually accomplished by passing a joint resolution.”
HJR 10 Joint resolution authorizing the lease of a portion of the Utah State Development passed unanimously in both houses (see Utah State Developmental Center Properties Master Plan page 43).
State code (62A-5-202.5) enacted by SB0172 dealing with the composition and duties and powers of the Development Center board.
State code (62A-5-206.6) enacted by SB0172 dealing with the process of selling land. “The board shall:
I cannot resist pointing out that the very plan Senator Dayton introduced to the legislature in 2014 and was passed by both houses with only one no vote and was unanimously reaffirmed by the legislature in 2016 defines a plan that “fragments” the center’s land with roads. Moreover the proposed east-west connector is among the roads included in this plan.
In July, The Daily Herald published two articles on the connector and an editorial
At the November 1, 2016 city council meeting we approved a sewer connection with Highland for the Golf Training Center that will be build just east of the AF retention pond located on Alpine Hwy (see item 8). This is pertinent to the East-West Connector as it is likely that a turnout lane will be required to facilitate entrance to the center from the west bound lane of the East-West Connector.
6-Dec: Highland passes resolution supporting Murdock Connector – similar resolution passed by American Fork.
UDOT is scheduled to conduct a road study on the impact of the East-West connector. The project was funded by the Mountainland Association of Governments and should be completed sometime in February. Until this is completed legislative approval cannot start.
One page summary report of the East-West connector study was released on Feb 23rd (Click here to see the summary). The following are highlights from the summary:
The final report (clear here to view it) was released after the legislative session was over. No surprises. Click here for an analysis of the report along with charts and graphs along with key contacts for those who want to exert influence on this issue.
The USDC Board met to discuss the land development project (S. of Lone Peak) and whether or not to approve an East-West Connector through state owned property. They moved
“that the USDC Governing Board make a resolution to the Utah State Legislature. Request that the Legislature authorize the USDC Governing Board permission to move forward with development of the entire 143 Master Plan Acreage. Stipulate, that as the design process moves forward, that design proposals will be brought back to the Governing Board for review and approval.
USDC Board meeting. Board reaffirms their recommendation for a 2 lane 25 mph east-west connector road. They also discuss boundary adjustments between Highland and Alpine. Scott Smith asks to delay discussion relative to the boundary change until after the election. Project manager disagrees. However, the both agree that the State would benefit from creating a bidding war between American Fork and Highland for the land south of the High School.
Here is a link to a location where links to the agenda, minutes and an audio recording for the July 23rd meeting can be found. The most interesting part of the meeting starts at about minute 10 of the audio recording. Bill Exeter is discussing the land development project.
Shawn Seager, Director, Regional Planning Department, Mountainland Association of Governments provided the following information to Mayor Thompson.
Find an abbreviated funding history for the Murdock Connector project below and attached in a Word Document as per your request.
Murdock Connector Funding History from MAG Staff perspective.
Mountainland Association of Governments Transportation Improvement Project Number 47
UDOT PIN 14088
Project type: New Road
Project Description: This project will add a new east west connector road between SR-74(100 E / Alpine Hwy) and SR-129 (North County Blvd).
HJR 7 passed the House and Senator with limited opposition in the Senate. It is a relatively short resolution that concludes with the following:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature, in accordance with Utah Code Subsection 62A-5-206.6(5), authorizes the governing board to approve the sale or long-term lease of land associated with the USDC for the purpose of building an east-west connector road, according to specifications provided by the Department of Transportation in collaboration with the governing board, and in consideration of the resolution passed by the governing board on May 17, 2017.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Legislature directs that the Department of Transportation and all other governmental entities involved in the construction of the east-west connector road take all reasonable steps to mitigate any negative impact on the Utah State Developmental Center or private property.
Next steps include beginning the design process so that we know exactly where the road will need to be located, finalize negotiations with Pheasant Hollow, obtaining a lease or purchase agreement with the Developmental Center Board.
The city is negotiating with the leadership of the Pheasant Hollow subdivision with respect to mitigating the impact of the road. As I understand it they (PH) would like for the Murdock Canal trail to be constructed on the south side of the east-west connector. The would require purchasing land from Fox Hollow Golf Course which would necessitate the consent from the city councils of Lehi, American Fork, and Pleasant Grove. Additionally, BYU has executed a 100 year lease agreement with the cities to build a golf training facility immediately south of Pheasant Hollow. Putting the trail south of the road would impact this facility and require the construction of a vertical retaining wall according Mark Johnson, the new mayor of Lehi and a contractor involved in designing the facility.
July 26, 2018 Council approved a cooperative agreement between MAG, Utah County, Highland, and UDOT for the management of the design and construction of the East-West connector road. Click here to view minutes of this special council meeting. The agreement was signed Aug 28, 2018
March 18, 2019. Contract with JUB approved for design of the project.
MAG unanimously approved an additional $7M to complete the East-West connector. Click here to view the meeting minutes (bottom of page 3).
On May 15th at 1 PM the Canal Blvd extension between Alpine Hwy and N. County Blvd was officially opened. Click here to view photos from opening event on Facebook